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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Lifemagician's 2009 Summer Road Trip

    Having of necesssity driven the MassPike twice, as well as the complete NY thruway, I was not too keen to get back on a turnpike when I finally left Newton, to head for Alaska. I chose to take route 9 west and eventually picked up twenty, some miles east of Springfield.

    Two hours into my journey it was time for a stop.... a drink, a stretch and a walk. Just then I chanced upon the annual Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield, central MA. It was 10am, and the action was about to start. All the stalls had been set up around the perimetre of the town common.

    Taking a stroll around I sampled many of the goodies for sale and admired all the beautiful craftworik. Ever conscious of the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines these days, I restrained myself from buying. That is, untill I got to the bookstall......

    America's Wonderlands, published by the National Geograhic Society in 1959, is a beautiful book of great historic pictures and stories featuring all the National Parks to that date. The photos are spectacular for the time, and show the parks as they were before all the development one sees today, took place. Not a paved path is evident, and most photos showing official parties, show them inspecting the parks on horseback. Many are in colour, some are in black and white or sepia. An absolute joy to behold, and probably a collectors item. And it weighs a ton!

    It is in excellent condition, and previous prices marked in the book - $20 and $6.50 - indicate it is possible 4th or 5th hand.

    But what really sold it to me is the map in the back, still in pristine condition, a road map of the USA, marking all the National Parks and published before the Eisenhower Interstate System.

    And all that for the princely sum of $1.00!

    To say I am elated is an understatement.

    In that happy frame of mind, I realised that I would now not reach my intended destination driving through small town America, and hopped onto the MassPike at Springfield.

    At Blandford Plaza I had to make a quick stop. There, as I entered, was a gentleman who was wearing a Relay for Life teashirt. Having taken part in my first Relay for Life only a few months ago, we got to chatting, and before you know it, his wife joins in. She is using a walking stick, and I complemented her on her courage, saying my doctor wanted me to use one, but no way will I be seen with a walking stick - at least, not now, not yet!

    Turns out she has the same health issue as myself and lives not far from son in Boston. And like myself, she is refusing to allow it to control her life, and has even been to the Antarctic and Africa since she was diagnosed. Have been invited to visit next time I am in Boston.

    You meet the nicest people on the road.

    Took I-88 down to Pennsylvania. This road through the Catskill Mtns is only parcially designated on maps, and in my atlas, as a scenic route. Maybe because it was a Saturday, or maybe because it was a grey/wet day, or just maybe because by now I was in such a great mood, but I found it to be a magnificent drive with wonderful vistas everytime you topped another mountain. Not once did I see an 18 wheeler on the south bound side, and traffic in general was very light.

    Two days later I came upon another rural gem. This time I was travelling west on 24 in OH. I passed by the barn, and it was not really till later that it dawned on me that it possibly had a story. After all, the advertisement painted on the front of the barn was of a product no longer in general use. I decided to do a quick U-turn. The property is right on the border of Medina county, near Sullivan OH.

    One hour later I had met Grant Grundy, the owner of the property, learned the history of the barn, of the property and of the general area, as well as of his family. He brought out a folder with copies and clippings of articles about the old barn, and about Harley Warrick who re-painted the barn in the 1970s for the current owner's father. He showed me his old tractors and his priced possession, a fully restored very old tractor - now only used to show in parades. I do not know exactly what it was, but, when I get to post the pictures, someone here will enlighten me.

    Further along 24 - between Tiffin and Findlay - I came across another barn with the same message on it. This time I did not have to enter the property to take a photo, so did not get the story behind that one.

    Lifey in Dubuque IA
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-20-2009 at 05:14 AM. Reason: typos!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default NY scenic drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Having of necesssity driven the MassPike twice, as well as the complete NY thruway, I was not too keen to get back on a turnpike when I finally left Newton, to head for Alaska. I chose to take route 9 west and eventually picked up twenty, some miles east of Springfield.

    Two hours into my journey it was time for a stop.... a drink, a stretch and a walk. Just then I chanced upon the annual Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield, central MA. It was 10am, and the action was about to start. All the stalls had been set up around the perimetre of the town common.
    So you were in my neck of the woods recently! This past week was full of activity, between the asparagus festival (near MA-9) and the Brimfield Flea Market (US-20).


    Taking a stroll around I sampled many of the goodies for sale and admired all the beautiful craftworik. Ever conscious of the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines these days, I restrained myself from buying. That is, untill I got to the bookstall......
    So most likely this book had been sitting in the local Book Bear store, a place I passed essentially every day for the better part of a decade, but never bothered to stop.

    Took I-88 down to Pennsylvania. This road through the Catskill Mtns is only parcially designated on maps, and in my atlas, as a scenic route.
    A very nice drive with scenes of the mountains, traveling in either direction. And the road generally is lightly traveled.

    After all, the advertisement painted on the front of the barn was of a product no longer in general use. I decided to do a quick U-turn.
    Mail Pouch tobacco? Or was it Kentucky Club?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass Tim View Post
    Mail Pouch tobacco?
    Ye got it in one!! Not had time to attend to pics yet.... having far too gooda time!!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-23-2009 at 10:00 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Dubuque

    My wonderful friends in Dubuque made sure I saw all that is precious to them. From the Mighty Mississippi to the 4th Street Elevator at Fenelon Place.

    Highlights were many... including sitting and watching this HUGE barge go up the river and then gently pass through the opening in the railway bridge. We had dinner at the river's edge in a restaurant which I would not recommend. Great venue!! (Terrible service and so-so food.)

    Earlier in the day we had gone up - and down - the world's shortest scenic railway, visited the magnificent Outside the Lines Gallery on the corner of 4th and Bluff - full of the work of local artists - made the most of the closing down sale at Pixie Stix - baby wear and toys - next door, and had a relaxing and satisfying lunch at All Things Sweet.

    The previous day I had accompanied friend on her round of messages and shopping. This is a great way to meet the locals and get a feeling of the lifestyle.

    Yeah!! Had a great time in Dubuque!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default tis a nice stop

    I too find Dubuque to be a nice place to spend a little time. I usually make it over there about once a year.

    Did you make it to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium during your visit? It really is a wonderful little museum, complete with a Riverboat you can tour, and a computer simulation where you can try to navigate one of those big barges around a little bridge for yourself! (yes, it is very hard!). I'm also looking to make it to nearby Petosi, WI where a new National Brewery museum just opened up last year that looks like it should be pretty interesting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    Did you make it to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium during your visit? It really is a wonderful little museum, complete with a Riverboat you can tour, and a computer simulation where you can try to navigate one of those big barges around a little bridge for yourself! (yes, it is very hard!).
    In 2007 friend took me there, and I managed to destroy the bridge with that barge. lol Everytime I use the souvenir mug I bought then, it brings back memories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    I'm also looking to make it to nearby Petosi, WI where a new National Brewery museum just opened up last year that looks like it should be pretty interesting.
    Now ye tell me!!!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-23-2009 at 01:38 PM. Reason: Fixed quote

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Field Report: Truck Stop Parking

    Just wanted to share an experience.

    The gent in front of me at the cash register, in the truck stop in Shelby MT, simply asked where he could park his RV. The kind and helpful lady told him of a motel come RV park, not half a mile down the road. Then she turned me.

    She: Hello! How are you?
    Me: Fine thanks, I feel so full after all that lovely food in your restaurant. (I have already brought you business.)
    She: Yes, it is good, isn't it.... how can I halp you?
    Me: Elaine, I read in the trucker's directory that you allow RVs and campers (I now refer to my vehicle as a camper) to park overnight at the truck stop.
    She: That is correct.
    Me: Where shall I park?
    She: Over there (indicating) behind the pumps, or if you cross the road you will see the blue (illuminated) sign Truck Parking. Just pull in there.
    Me: Thanks! Now tell me, is there any likelyhood of the price of fuel going up overnight... I am just too tired to pump now, I'd like to leave it till the morning. (I will be giving you more business.)
    She: No! not that I have heard, you'll be fine.
    I had a great free night, simply by using a different approach and having invested in the Trucker's Directory. I thought of the gentleman at the RV park. Maybe he had heard that you could park at the truck stop, and now might be quite disillusioned.

    p.s. Met a lady yesterday who had heard of - but never visited - RTA.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-07-2009 at 09:51 AM. Reason: moved and added title

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Off the Klondike Highway

    The Silver Trail

    At Stewart Crossing I turned off the Klondike Highway, to Mayo, where I spent the night at the Bedrock Motel and RV Park. There was only one other motorhome in the RV Park which was all grassed. A pleasant change from the gravel parks along the Alcan. Electric hookup and the basic facilities nearby, complete with wifi for a mere $15. Contrary to what I believed, the more remote it was the cheaper these facilities were. I was to experience more of that later, as well.

    Next morning I left before seven, and headed for Keno - the end of the road. The road was paved as far as Mayo. It was full of potholes which were impossible to miss, even at 40mph. On the other hand, the gravel road to Keno was an excellent road

    with only a small patch of slight washboarding. I really enjoyed this early morning journey.

    Not far from Mayo I saw something on the road, which I have since been told was a porcupine. There was a adult, and a young. Before I got close enough to take a meaningful photo

    a vehicle coming in the opposite direction sent them scurrying into the shrub. Then, a bit further on - in the distance - was a large black blob beside the road. I attempted to approach as quietly as I possibly could, but it disappeared before I could get a photo. It was a large black bear, with her cub scurrying into the bush after her.

    The only other wildlife I saw on this road was an Arctic Fox. It just stood there beside my car, looking up at me. As soon as it saw the camera it turned and left.

    There seems to be a wide variety of opinions as to what it decided to have for breakfast.

    Keno

    There was no movement in this little settlement when I arrived soon after 7am.

    Neither did there seem to be any locks on any doors. The visitor centre was wide open

    and the library was not locked.

    Doors to other buildings were also open, though I did not investigate as to what these were.

    There were signs of days gone by.

    A lovely little place which it appears, time has almost forgotten...


    just not quite.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Cool !

    Thanks again Lifey, I am loving the look of these secluded roads and small towns, what an adventure !

    Oh boy, you got me wanting to be there !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    The Klondike Hwy from Whitehorse to Dawson City is nice and scenic... not unlike many roads on which I have travelled throughout Northern Canada. I did not see any further wildlife along this road. The fireweed

    along the side of the road was brilliant, mixed in many places with blue, purple and white flowers. A most colourful display.

    (I wish the flowers had shown up brighter)

    At Fox Lake there was a rest area which had a board

    telling of the devastating fires of 1998, caused by campers, and how it burned for 9 months and changed the landscape forever.

    There was also the story of the firefighters who were caught in the fires and had to jump into Fox Lake to avoid being burned alive. It directed you to a short walk to the lake. When I read to allow two hours for the 200 yd walk, I decided to give it a miss.

    There was a lovely large rest area at Five Fingers Rapids

    with a staircase and boardwalk to the river..... a long ways off. While here, I like many others, decided it would be a good spot for lunch. Then one of the tour buses arrived, and our peace whas shattered. Not only the noise from the loudmouths off that bus, but many decided they had to sit in the large bushes of flowers, to have their photo taken. They then proceeded to pick bunches of flowers, before boarding the bus again. Words failed me!

    Stewart Junction

    The turn off to Keno, was also the only place where fuel was available.... and not much more! I stood for sometime on the bridge over the Stewart River

    amazed at the volume of water running below me and wishing we had something like that at home to relieve our drastic water shortage.

    The only other feature of note before arriving in Dawson City is the junction with the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. Having read what Craig had to say about this road I heeded his advice and determined not to drive it. A decision I would later come to regret... and still do.

    At the NWT Visitor Centre in Dawson City - which I am convinced is there purely to promote the Dempster - I was to read the many testimonials from those who had only in the last week driven it, driven it in ordinary everyday vehicles. The majority emphasised that if you were prepared to travel slowly then it was a very nice highway, and a great journey. Most seemed to have taken two days up, and two days back.

    Dawson City

    I did not get to visit any of the must see places... it was just too wet for my liking to go anywhere. I did however, have rides on the ferry across the Yukon.

    Oh! how I hate being first on a ferry...

    that sinking feeling of going too far.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-25-2009 at 04:36 PM. Reason: I adjusted the color balance on the roadside flower photo

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